You may think that driving home after having a couple drinks is no big deal. However, when you are facing DUI charges and the consequences and penalties that follow, you may have a different opinion. A simple first offense DUI conviction can leave you with long-lasting struggles in many areas of your life, but there are other factors that can quickly increase your troubles.
South Carolina laws, like many other states, allow for courts to enhance DUI sentences when certain factors exist. Because of this, that first-offense DUI has the potential to derail your life for the foreseeable future.
Common aggravating factors
DUI charges have both criminal and civil consequences. You may face jail, fines and other court-ordered penalties. You will also have to deal with the administrative process of determining how long the state will suspend your license. These consequences do not include the hike in your car insurance, the risk of losing your job or professional certification, or the potential damage you may experience in your personal relationships.
Unfortunately, matters may only get worse if aggravating factors exist at the time of the DUI arrest. If police reported any of the following or others, you may face additional charges or enhanced sentencing:
- You have previous DUI convictions in your history.
- You have a child in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
- Your blood alcohol concentration is significantly higher than the legal limit of .08.
- You refuse to take a breath or blood test in accordance with South Carolina’s implied consent laws.
Other factors, such as having an open container in your vehicle or driving on a suspended license, can also enhance any penalties you may face.
An accident resulting in property damage or injuries may be the most serious reason the court can choose to enhance any penalties you may face if convicted of DUI. If someone in your vehicle or another vehicle suffers injuries, the court may increase your sentence or even charge you with a felony.
If your BAC results are over the legal limit and you are in an accident that causes the death of someone else, the consequences could be catastrophic. A conviction may land you in prison and facing other penalties that can irreparably change your life. In fact, any DUI conviction can create hardships that are difficult to recover from. This is why it is smart to have legal counsel as early as possible after your arrest so you can build a strong defense strategy.